The effective way to manage a difficult friendship

In a recent segment on Univision, we discussed what to do when you have a difficult friendship.  To be clear, this is not an abusive person (e.g. someone who uses tactics to control you financially, emotionally, or physically). 

The segmented centered on how to have a relationship with someone whose personality might be more at odds with yours, such as:

  1. A negative person
  2. A competitive person
  3. A “somewhat materialistic” person

Here is the video for you to see. If you don’t know Spanish, don’t worry.  Below, I cover the main points. 

So you’ve determined that you are dealing with someone who is not abusive, just somewhat “difficult” to carry a relationship with. 

For certain reasons (some covered below), you choose to maintain the relationship.  How can you do so in a productive and fulfilling way?

This is how I do it:

1.  Identify what you like about the relationship

I have a friend who can get a bit negative, but she is always there whenever I need her.

I also have a friend who is a bit “intense”, yet she is incredibly loyal

When we choose to maintain non-abusive yet somewhat difficult relationships in our lives, we do so for particular reasons.  Usually there is a beautiful characteristic for which we are grateful.

The “materialistic” person is very giving.

The “gossipy” friend is very empathetic.

Identify what it is you like and admire about the relationship and keep that front and center. 

2.  Identify the best “topics” to interact on

The reality is that none of us are perfect, and the one size fits all relationship is difficult to find. 

I have some friends with whom I discuss spirituality.

I have other friendships with whom I discuss parenting and raising a child.

I have other friendships with whom I share the common background of being an immigrant and the challenges that might arise there. 

So that person who is a bit negative about ever becoming a parent? I may not bring that topic up as much as I would spirituality, or being an immigrant. 

3.  Always prepare yourself for the interaction

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  When I started accepting people as they were, and I stopped hopping that they would magically change into what I believed they should be, my life got much better.

So instead of hoping that today is the day my negative friend would be positive, I prepare myself before meeting up with her to expect someone who is a bit more negative on life than other people I know.

This keeps me from becoming incredibly disappointed and thus setting myself up for suffering.

At the end of the day, she might be quite happy being negative.  Did you know that many consider negative people to make good lawyers?

By preparing myself, I am not caught off guard by her negativity and I can have a much more productive interaction.

4.  Don’t be afraid to be who you are

So you have a wonderfully giving friend who also happens to be slightly materialistic? You don’t have to be materialistic in order for the friendship to work!

Don’t be afraid to be who you are, and if the friend values you, she or he will find a way to make space in their life just the way you are.

5.  Be clear of your limits

You don’t have to have coffee with this person every day if it does not uplift you and help you live a better life.

Maybe you choose to have lunch with them once every month or two.

Know your limits and put them in place.

As always, I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment or question below. 

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